Sunday, February 03, 2008

How Republicans really feel about illegal immigrants

If John McCain becomes the Republican nominee for President what does that say about how the voters really feel (as opposed to what they say) about how the United States should deal with illegal immigrants? Both Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, presumably in response to their perceptions of how the voters feel on the issue, have over the last few months hardened their positions against illegal immigrants. As governor neither of them instructed their state’s employees to spend very many state resources to ferret out and deport illegal immigrants. Quite the contrary in fact. But on the campaign trail, presumably in response to voter outrage over the issue, both men seemed to be competing with each other over who could sound tougher on the issue.

And yet they have been losing the primaries to John McCain, who still supports providing a path to eventual citizenship to otherwise law-abiding, hard-working illegal immigrants who have established roots in our communities. Obviously not very many voters in the Republican primaries are making getting tough against illegal immigrants their top priority – despite what they may have been telling Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.

We have been hearing talk in the media about a supposed effect noted in previous elections in which white voters were more likely to tell pollsters they supported a black candidate than actually voted for that candidate. Apparently that has not been happening very much this year. Perhaps we need a name for the dynamic in which voters convince the media and candidates that they support getting tough and deporting illegal immigrants and then don’t vote for the candidates who espouse that position.

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